FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen has not decided whether to close any plant to cut costs and boost earnings, Europe's biggest carmaker said on Monday, dismissing as speculation talk that its Brussels plant may close.
"There is no decision taken on closing any Volkswagen factory," a company spokeswoman said.
The Brussels plant is often cited as a potential candidate to shut down should Volkswagen reduce production capacity in Europe. One of VW's older plants, it employs 5,700 staff and makes the Volkswagen Golf and Lupo and Audi A3 models.
Volkswagen is phasing out almost all versions of its Lupo microcar and replacing it with the Brazilian-built Fox.
Closing the Brussels plant would be another blow for Belgium's carmaking industry after France's Renault shut a plant in 1997 and Ford cut jobs there in 2003.
In his first media interview since taking over as Volkswagen brand chief this year, Wolfgang Bernhard declined to rule out closing plants as a way to save money.
In remarks published by magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday, he said he would outline his restructuring plan for the loss-making VW Brand Group to the supervisory board by year's end.
Volkswagen could build at least 6 million cars annually but last year the group delivered only 5.08 million to customers. The group employed 342,502 staff at the end of 2004.
To combat the "massive problems" at the VW brand, Bernhard said he aims to boost its results by 7 billion euros ($8.40 billion) by the end of 2008, mainly through cost cuts.
Volkswagen has German car and parts plants in Wolfsburg, Hanover, Brunswick, Kassel, Emden, Salzgitter, Chemnitz, Dresden, Mosel. Luxury division Audi has its production facilities in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.
Volkswagen and its units have European car and parts plants in Brussels; Sarajevo; Crewe in Britain; Sant' Agata Bolognese in Italy; Poznan and Polkowice in Poland; Setubal, Portugal; Barcelona, Martorell, Prat, and Pamplona in Spain; the Slovak cities of Bratislava and Martin; Kvasiny, Mlada Boleslav and Vrchlabi in the Czech Republic; and Gyoer in Hungary.
It also has seven production plants in South America, one in Mexico, one in South Africa and two in China.
Altogether, the Volkswagen group operates 47 plants in 18 countries around the world, building more than 21,500 vehicles every day.